The winner of the Great British Bake Off 2019 is… helping the Department for International Development to publicise the benefits of UK aid spending overseas.
David Atherton, who was crowned the champion of the Channel 4 baking competition this week, said in a video produced by the department that he had been “lucky enough to actually see first hand things getting better through UK aid” while volunteering in Malawi.
The 36-year-old nurse, who became known for his precise bakes and unflappable demeanour in the Bake Off tent, said he “wasn’t going to get stressed by a cake not rising or my pastry being a bit soggy” having spent time training nurses and midwives at a rural hospital in Malawi’s Zomba district.
Atherton spent two years volunteering through the Tropical Health and Education Trust programme, a UK aid-backed initiative run by the non-government organisation VSO.
During his volunteer placement, Atherton introduced “head-to-toe”' checks on babies coming into hospital for free immunisation, which he said was a “really important low-cost way of being able to diagnose so many potentially life-threatening issues” including anaemia.
In a UK Aid-branded video shared on DfID’s Twitter feed, Atherton said the programme saved lives by encouraging expectant mothers to travel to health centres to give birth.
The real reason #GBBO finalist David keeps so calm in the Bake Off tent@nomadbakerdavid @BritishBakeOff @VSO_Intl #GBBOFinal #UKaid pic.twitter.com/f8Udqcc99G
— DFID (@DFID_UK) October 29, 2019
“Too often people try to give birth in the villages and if there’s any kind of complications the journey is so long that any critical situation would quickly become a crisis,” he said.